Clover's COVID booster bolsters antibody levels against omicron

A booster dose of Clover Biopharmaceuticals’ COVID jab was shown to bolster antibody levels against two omicron variants as the Chinese biotech tries to position the shot as a universal option.

The new data showed that a third dose of the COVID vaccine, SCB-2019, elevated neutralizing antibody levels 19-fold against the omicron BA.2 variant, according to a release issued Monday. The additional dose boosted antibody levels 12-fold versus the omicron BA.1 variant. 

The booster assessment is the first glimpse into the double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with more than 3,700 participants in Brazil, Colombia and the Philippines. The third shot was given approximately six months after patients received a second dose of SCB-2019. Clover indicated that more data would be available in a future peer-reviewed journal, although a specific time frame was not mentioned. 

CEO Joshua Liang said the data demonstrated that the shot remains a “premium COVID-19 vaccine candidate," according to a statement. 

In September 2021, the company reported the two-dose regimen was 67% effective across all variants and disease severities. Against the then-dominant delta variant, the shot was 79% effective and there were no reported COVID hospitalizations or deaths among the treated arm in the trial. 

Now, Clover is laser-focused on reaching the market, with the company saying it intends to complete regulatory filings in China, Europe and with the World Health Organization in the second half of 2022. 

The shot has been the source of significant investment from the Center for Epidemic Preparedness Initiative (CEPI) to the tune of nearly $400 million. In November, the organization tacked on an additional $36.9 million to fund the continued development of SCB-2019. The company plans to supply 414 million doses to COVAX—the global initiative aimed at distributing COVID vaccines around the world that is co-led by CEPI—once it receives emergency use authorization from the WHO. 

While nearly two-thirds of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, that number plummets to less than 18% among people in low-income countries. Booster coverage varies widely, given supply constraints.